But what would be the bulk of the building, once projected at three times the size of the bank building? Almost certainly Gehry's building would remain much larger.
Soon, apparently, we may find out, thanks to a hint not in any announcement from the government or developer, but from the New York Times's architecture critic, who managed a brief but error-riddled update on the Atlantic Yards project.
Project under way?
In a "New Season" season preview in the New York Times's Arts and Leisure section, in an article headlined Architectural Shifts, Global and Local, Nicolai Ouroussoff writes:
New Yorkers will see several major nonmuseum projects getting under way this season, and these could bring about the biggest shift in decades in the city’s physical identity.
The most startling is a $14 billion plan by the developers Stephen M. Ross and Steven Roth to rebuild a swath of Midtown that includes Madison Square Garden, Pennsylvania Station and the James A. Farley post office....
Another huge project is the $4 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, and Frank Gehry will soon unveil his redesign of its first phase, so it will soon become clear whether Brooklyn will receive a dazzling 21st-century version of Rockefeller Center or a conventional retail-entertainment-sports complex inside a pretty architectural wrapper.
First, it's hardly certain that Atlantic Yards will actually get under way; that depends on the resolution of a federal lawsuit, now in the appeals stage, and a state lawsuit, awaiting a trial court decision, as well as other delays.
Like the Rock?
Second, it's doubtful that Gehry can redesign the first phase, which is four towers wrapped around an arena, plus one tower to the west across Flatbush Avenue, to make Atlantic Yards echo Rockefeller Center.
The latter notably added rather than subtracted streets. The first phase of Atlantic Yards would close Fifth Avenue between Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, and Pacific Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues.
(This is from the General Project Plan, issued 12/8/06. Click to enlarge.)
Any effort to make AY look more like Rockefeller Center would have to focus on the design of the project's open space, which would come in the second phase. Indeed, Ouroussoff in June 2006 criticized the open space design as suggesting a private enclave.
It's about housing
Third, Atlantic Yards would not be a retail-entertainment-sports complex. More than three-quarters of its square footage (nearly 6.4 million sf out of nearly 8 million sf) would be occupied by housing (see p. 18 of this PDF), and at 292 units/acre, the project would be far more dense than any other major project in the city.
Rather, Atlantic Yards would be, as another Times reporter more accurately described it, "essentially a large residential development with an arena and a relatively small amount of office and retail space attached to it."